United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
F. BRENNAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
a state prisoner proceeding without counsel in an action
brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, has filed two motions
for preliminary injunction. ECF Nos. 26 & 29. For the
reasons stated hereafter, plaintiff's motions for
preliminary injunctive relief must be denied.
first motion, plaintiff alleges that defendants Coffin and
Telander ignored warning signs regarding his mental health
and released him from observation on June 12, 2017. ECF No.
26 at 7. Plaintiff states that he attempted suicide the next
day. Id. Plaintiff also claims that in a separate
incident occurring in September 2017, he was escorted to
medical after reporting suicidal thoughts and an unnamed
doctor declined to take his concerns seriously. Id.
at 8. Plaintiff was released back to general population and
subsequently engaged in self harm by lacerating his arm and
wrist. Id. Finally, plaintiff states that he has
alerted defendants to the fact that his currently assigned
clinician makes him “very uncomfortable” and
causes him anxiety. Id. at 8-9. He claims that he
has requested a change of clinician, but defendants Wallace
and Telander have declined that request. Id. at 9.
requests that the court enter a preliminary injunction
requiring defendants to change his clinician. Id. at
10-11. He also requests that the court provide declaratory
relief by establishing “each part[ies'] rights and
liabilities with regard to medical [and] mental health
treatment.” Id. at 11.
second motion for preliminary injunction (ECF No. 29) is
duplicative. It contains substantively identical claims and
arguments, and requests for relief as the first motion.
relief - either temporary or permanent - is an
“extraordinary remedy, never awarded as of
right.” Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council,
555 U.S. 7, 22 (2008). The Supreme Court has held that:
A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish
that he is likely to succeed on the merits, that he is likely
to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary
relief, that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and
that an injunction is in the public interest.
Id. at 20. Additionally, “[a] federal court
may issue an injunction if it has personal jurisdiction over
the parties and subject matter jurisdiction over the claim;
it may not attempt to determine the rights of persons not
before the court.” Zepeda v. United States
Immigration & Naturalization Service, 753 F.2d 719,
727 (9th Cir. 1983).
has failed to establish that he will suffer irreparable harm
if his requested injunctive relief is not granted. Included
with defendants' response to plaintiff's motion is a
recent mental health assessment which indicates that he is a
low suicidal risk. ECF No. 36 at 24 (Ex. B). Additionally, a
declaration from L. Sullivan (a psychologist with the
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation who
is assigned to plaintiff's treatment team) states that
plaintiff “has a history of making demands of his
treatment team, and if his demands are not ///// met, of
threatening suicide . . . granting his demands has not made a
difference in the outcome of his treatment.”
Id. at 15 (Ex. A).
lengthy reply, plaintiff states that Dr. Sullivan's
declaration is untruthful. ECF No. 39 at 6. He takes issue
with Sullivan's assertions that: (1) plaintiff is not
allowed to keep medications on his person; and (2) that he
has “no documented history of actual suicide attempts
with intent to die.” Id. at 6-7. Also attached
to his reply are exhibits purporting to show that he will
suffer irreparable harm if he is not provided a clinician
change. These exhibits, he argues, show that all of his
suicide attempts have occurred while under the care of
clinicians he is uncomfortable with. Id. at 14-15.
He claims that a change of clinician is of vital importance
now because his grandmother has recently passed away and he
needs help coping with that trauma. Id. at 16. The
exhibit in question - labelled “J” - is a
reproduction of progress notes which state that, on May 2,
2017, plaintiff “became upset” after he learned
that he would be assigned a new clinician. Id. at
48. The notes also indicate, however, that plaintiff regained
his composure shortly thereafter. Id.
in plaintiff's motions or reply establishes that he will
suffer irreparable harm if his request for a clinician change
is not granted. His assertions that he would
“thrive” under a different clinician or that he
only suffers extreme mental health setbacks under the care of
clinicians he is uncomfortable with are simply not indicative
of a specific, irreparable harm for which a preliminary
injunction could be narrowly tailored to prevent. Clearly,
plaintiff would prefer a different treatment provider and
believes his care would fare better if that request were
granted. His current treatment team - as evidenced by Dr.
Sullivan's declaration - disagrees that such a change
would be likely to improve plaintiff's outcome. Mere
disagreements over the course of treatment do not establish
deliberate indifference and, consequently, do not militate in
favor of injunctive relief. See Jackson v. McIntosh,
90 F.3d 330, 332 (9th Cir. 1996) (holding that “a
plaintiff's showing of nothing more than ‘a
difference of medical opinion' as to the need to pursue
one course of treatment over another was insufficient, as a
matter of law, to establish deliberate indifference.”).
And the Supreme Court has cautioned that courts should be
wary of “day to day management of prisons.”
See Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 482-83 (1995).
The type of relief plaintiff requests runs counter that
admonition and would set an unwelcome precedent. Doubtless
many, if not all, prisoners would prefer to
“shop” medical providers until they found one
which they were comfortable with. Being able to do so might,
in some cases, improve health outcomes. But it is not the
place of the courts to provide them that ability by running
roughshod over the recommendations of their current
providers. This proposition is especially true where medical
assessments indicate that plaintiff is at a low risk for
adverse treatment outcomes. Absent some evidence of a
specific, imminent, and irreparable harm to his ...